Despite record, Minn. confident

The Gophers sit at the bottom of the Big Ten, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Minnesota men’s tennis team may currently reside in last place in the ultracompetitive Big Ten, but the Gophers aren’t playing like conference bottom-feeders by any means.

With an inexperienced roster growing each day, coach Geoff Young’s squad continues to improve. A few weeks ago, Minnesota was losing quickly to superior opponents.

Last weekend, the Gophers held their own with No. 14 Michigan, losing 5-2 in the end but coming close to pulling off the upset with several close matches in singles and doubles against the Wolverines.

As the maroon and gold prepare to host Michigan State at 1 p.m. today at the Baseline Tennis Center, then travel to Iowa on Saturday to challenge the Hawkeyes, Young said he likes the way his team is playing.

“This is a big weekend for us,” Young said. “The last two weeks we have been playing better and I think we are a dangerous team.”

“We are getting closer and closer right now,” he said. “My goal at the beginning of the season was to improve and get better all season long, and I feel we are improving.”

Women travel to Michigan

The Minnesota women’s tennis team will play two dual meets in the state of Michigan this weekend.

The 57th-ranked Gophers, currently 1-4 in the Big Ten, will attempt to improve their conference record when they challenge Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday.

On Sunday, Minnesota will take a break from conference action and travel to Kalamazoo, Mich. to challenge regular NCAA tournament qualifier Western Michigan out of the Middle Atlantic Conference.

Coach Tyler Thomson said he is expecting it to be just warm enough for both matches to be played outside – which would mark the Gophers’ first two outdoor duals of the season.

“They are formidable teams,” Thomson said of the Gophers’ competition this weekend. “Michigan State is much improved and they beat the No. 31 team in the country (Washington) last weekend.”

“(Western Michigan) has wins over Big Ten teams, and they are a team that goes to the NCAA tournament on a regular basis by winning the MAC title.”

As the season heads into April – the stretch run – senior Danielle Mousseau said the team has been talking about staying positive in the face of injuries and fatigue.

“A lot of teams are going to be tired or stressed or injured right now, but we can still make the season a good one if we stay focused and realize every team is in the same boat we are, and competing as hard as we always have,” she said.